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Sponsored: How Auto Safety Research Helps More People Than Just Drivers

Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center brings a modern partnership ethos to learn about auto safety while also helping society.


GOOD and Toyota, co-sponsors of the People Are Awesome series, bring you additional stories about individuals and organizations that are making a positive impact in our world.

Chuck Gulash looks at the most troubling problems in driver safety and sees a world of potential. An engineer by trade, Gulash is the director of Toyota’s Collaborative Safety Research Center (CSRC) and spearheads a research initiative that brings a modern partnership ethos to tackle driver safety in the most vulnerable populations: children, teenagers, and seniors. Car crashes represent a common cause of death for these three groups, and by understanding each group's particular challenges, the center hopes to make a lasting impact on automotive safety.

Opened in January 2011 with $50 million in funding, the CSRC is based on three pillars Toyota sees as "collaborative research, crash data analysis, and outreach.” Working with external partners such as research hospitals, government agencies, and research institutions, the center is a radical departure from traditional auto research centers where the data proprietary.

The idea for the CSRC was born from Toyota’s success with previous partnerships it had developed with outside institutions. For example, a few years ago, Toyota partnered with two universities, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest, to delve into the effects of head trauma on the brain by studying football players. By attaching small devices to measure acceleration to helmets used by more than 400 players in over 250,000 hits, the team was able to collect data on head impact and its effects in real time.

The data collected provided essential information and insights into what happens to human brains in a collision scenario, and fostered advances in two different fields. Not only was Toyota able to improve computer systems that help simulate the injuries suffered in car crashes, but in turn, the universities were able to develop a safety ratings system for football helmets that today helps to protect student-athletes across the country.

“Collaborating with outside partners is at the very heart of how we work towards our goals,” Gulash says. By taking an integrative approach to traffic crashes (including vehicles, people, and infrastructure), the CSRC identifies gaps in its research portfolio and then reaches out to institutions with experience and strengths that can take research into a new direction.

The center currently has nineteen projects in its portfolio that tackle everything from studying cognitive driver distraction to developing crash algorithms that help prepare first responders to an auto crash by predicting the severity of injuries. With the growing population of older Americans, it is also exploring how age affects driving, including how posture and body shapes change as people age.

The collaborative ethos doesn’t end when technologies are developed. One of the most beneficial aspects about the CSRC is that most of the research and technology being developed will not be proprietary to Toyota. Instead, Gulash says that the center is committed to publishing its findings or sharing computer models as much as possible to help not just with driver and automobile safety, but to inform safety in non-automotive industries as well.

For the CSRC, success is defined precisely by sharing the research so that it can be adopted in the future to serve as a foundation for new developments and technologies. “This model allows us an unprecedented opportunity to share our time, talent and technology with the broader scientific community, and vice versa,” he says.

While CSRC is scheduled to run for five years, Gulash hopes that the initiative will be so successful that Toyota will continue to operate and fund the research center. Not only could the new technologies developed help Toyota’s own business, but also the car industry—and society—as a whole.

Gulash says, “A lot of people talk about ‘giving back’ to society. I think what Toyota is doing through the CSRC is ‘giving forward’ with advanced research that will benefit society well into the future.”

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Winner: Pin Awesome People on Pinterest

Check out the winner of the Pin Awesome People on Pinterest project.

For our latest project, we asked you to pin awesome people on Pinterest and share the stories of the everyday heroes in your life. We received some great boards that featured many inspiring people, and we left it to the GOOD community to vote for their favorite submission.

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Sponsored: The National Center for Family Literacy Helps People Turn a New Page in Life

Partnering with Toyota to create the Toyota Family Literacy Program, the National Center for Literacy has helped more than one million families.


GOOD and Toyota, co-sponsors of the People Are Awesome series, bring you additional stories about individuals and organizations that are making a positive impact in our world.

If you're reading this article, you already possess a reading comprehension that is out of reach for many in America. More than 20 years ago, Sharon Darling set out to tackle this complex issue, launching The National Center for Family Literacy (NCFL) to work with families to combat low literacy, a hidden stigma that is often invisible in our high-tech, digital age.

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People Are Awesome: Woman Rescues Her Road Rage Aggressor

Would you come to the aid of someone who'd just given you the finger?


It's not every day you get to see instant karma. But Kristyn Dominy bore witness to just that last week in her home state of Florida. Driving home from her grandmother's house with her infant daughter in the backseat, Dominy was overtaken by an irate female driver who passed her across a double-yellow line, giving Dominy the finger as she flew on by. Dominy later told ABC News that she was "irritated" by the woman's actions, but she was also a little worried. That's because she could see a little girl in the back of the crazy driver's car. "I noticed there was a child in the car and thought, 'Oh my gosh, I can’t believe she’s driving like this with a child in the back seat,'" she said.

Once she passed Dominy, the speeding woman attempted to pass more cars, veering in and out of lanes in an effort to get past a truck towing a boat. That's when the karma hit. While attempting to pass the truck, the erratic woman's old jeep, which had one door tied on with rope, began smoking profusely. A few seconds later, the jeep was on the side of the road and on fire.

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People Are Awesome: This Woman Lost Her Legs in a Tornado to Save Her Children's Lives

When 175-mph winds threatened Stephanie Decker's small children, there was only one thing for her to do.


When tornadoes came ripping through middle America last Friday, the eye of one storm was headed straight for Stephanie and Joe Decker's house in Marysville, Indiana, a small town near the Kentucky border. By the time Stephanie got home and received Joe's text message telling her to head for cover, she had only minutes to get herself and her two children into the basement. Once there, the horror began.

The Deckers' "dream home"—a 8,000-square-foot mass of stone and brick—was no match for the tornado's 175-mph winds. Within minutes, it began crumbling, sending debris straight for the basement. As one particularly large piece of rubble headed straight for her 5-year-old daughter, Reese, Stephanie threw herself on Reese and her 8-year-old son, Dominic, covering them with her body until the storm passed. As she was pummeled by an entire house and its contents, Stephanie screamed to her children over and over, "We're going to make it."

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People Are Awesome: Doctors Induce Labor So Dying Man Can Hold His Daughter

A terminally ill Texas man's wish was to hold his daughter before he died. He got that wish, but just barely.


When Mark Aulger was diagnosed with colon cancer, his doctors in The Colony, Texas ordered him to undergo months of intensive chemotherapy sessions. By January, Aulger had beat the cancer, but there was a catch: Though his treatment had eroded his tumors, it had also destroyed his lungs, leaving him only a few days to live. "It was basically like his lungs were soaked in concrete," Aulger's wife, Diane, told WFAA News in Dallas. "They couldn't inhale or pass oxygen throughout the body, he was in essence, suffocating to death."

Dying at the early age of 52, and leaving behind a spouse, children, and extended family, is hard for anyone. But Aulger's suffering was compounded by the fact that Diane was pregnant, and wasn't likely to give birth for another two weeks. Aulger didn't have that long, which is when his doctors stepped in.

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